Venice has a book by Eric Rosen, music by Matt Sax and lyrics by Sax and Rosen with additional music by Curtis Moore. Rosen and Clay previously collaborated on the one-man hip-hop work Clay, which was seen Off-Broadway at LCT3 in 2008.
Venice debuted in early 2010 at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, where Rosen is artistic director. The co-production later arrived at the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles that fall, where critics were encouraging.
The creative team has reunited with much of the cast from the original run for an August workshop at the Public Theater. Representatives for the Public declined to comment on the workshop.
The workshops reunite Drama Desk Award winner Javier Muñoz (In the Heights), co-author Sax, Uzo Aduba (Prometheus Bound, The Nightingale), Angela Polk, J.D. Goldblatt (Les Miserables) and Victoria Platt (Sammy).
New to the production are Fela! star Kevin Mambo, Claybourne Elder (Road Show, One Arm) and American Idiot and Passing Strange cast member Rebecca Naomi Jones. Here's how Venice was billed in its earlier incarnations: "An operatic tale of war, love and the ultimate quest for peace, told through a dynamic mix of musical genres including hip-hop, R&B and traditional theatre music. Brothers Venice and Markos are in conflict over how to save their city from a terrorist war; one brother seeks peace while the other is mired in treachery and destruction."
Rosen is a playwright, director and producer. His original plays and musicals include Winesburg, Ohio, for which he wrote the book and lyrics and directed (Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work, and five Barrymore Awards including Best Musical), Dream Boy (Jeff Award for Best Direction and Production), Wedding Play, Dancer from the Dance, Whitman and Undone. He also staged the world premiere of A Christmas Story: The Musical at KC Rep and in a revised production at the 5th Avenue Theatre.
Sax won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Solo Performance for Clay in its presentation by Lookingglass Theatre and About Face Theatre. Clay was also presented Off-Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater; it received Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations.